Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kyneburgha,Daughter of Penda and Holy Abbess, or Gloucester Saint?

St Kyneburgha was a female 7th century Mercian saint, daughter of the pagan King of  Mercia called Penda. She married King Ealhfrith, co-regent of Northumbria (who went to the Synod of Whitby  in 664AD but then she left him to establish an abbey at Castor,near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, of which she became the first abbess. She was buried in her church, but her remains were taken, before 972 to Peterborough Abbey. She had been one of the signatories, together with her brother Wulfhere of the founding charter of Burh Abbey, dated 664AD, according to DugdalesMonasticon.(Burh Abbey was later dedicated to St. Peter, becoming "Peterborough"). She was venerated as a saint by the monks of Peterborough, but there was another saint who was of Kyneburgha, the wife of King Oswald. A hymn to praise the life of Christ as lived in St Kyneburgha was found and restored in recent times along with her Festival.
The Latin and English texts of the chants comes from the literature accompanying a Compact Disc recording entitled “Chant in honour of Anglo Saxon saints”. The singing was by a group called Magnificat, directed by Philip Cave and recorded in Durham Cathedral in 1995. (CD ref is CGCD4004). The CD was produced by a firm called Griffin of Church House, St Mary’s Gate, Lancaster LA1 1TD. The music was transcribed from an original manuscript by David Hiley, who also wrote the foreword above. The text was translated by Davis Norwood. Philip Cave is a member of The Tallis Scholars and a layclerk at New College Oxford
Laudet dominum cum Petro sancto
Burgensis ecclesia in claris
lampadibus Kyneburgha et
Kyneswitha ac Tibba

Let the Burgensian church praise the Lord,
together with St Peter, and, with their bright torches,
 let Kyneburgha and
Kyneswitha and Tibba do likewise.

                                                                                                                                                                     In translatorem sanctarum
reliquiarum exorta est regis et populi
tempestas naufragosa sed mox
imperante domino facta est
tranquillitas magna. Nobis quoque
bene prosperetur trinitas benedicta
per nos, o beate Kyneburgha et
Kyneswitha ac Tibba.
Against the remover of the sacred relics
here arose a fierce storm from king and
people but, ere long, at the bidding of the  Lord,
 peace was fully restored
Gloriosa dispensatione dei interfector
regis et martyris Oswaldi, Rex Penda,
protulit gemellas rosas Christo de sua
spina – Christianissimas filias Christo
suscipiente de pagano parente.
Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto.
May we also
find good fortune, o blessed Kyneburgha,
Kyneswitha and Tibba, our blessed trinity.
By the wondrous contrivance of God
the slayer of Oswald, king and martyr, King
Penda, fathered two roses for Christ from
his own thorny stock and Christ received
these devotedly Christian daughters from
their pagan father.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen
 The Feast Of St Kyneburgha with St Kyneswitha and St Tibba was of this type being transcribed from a medieval manuscript. St Kyneburgha and her sister St Kyneswitha were daughters of the fearsome king Penda of Mercia. They converted to Christianity, Kyneburgha founded the convent of Castor in Northamptonshire and was succeeded as abbess by her sister. With their kinswoman Tibba they were later buried at Peterborough.
A later abbess also became a popular saint under the name of St. Kyneburga of Gloucester. Her date is uncertain, but her chapel was in use from 1147 until the Reformation; her feast day was June 25th, and her death was celebrated on April 10th. Her name survives in Kimbrose Way near Southgate Street in Gloucester. During the Three Choirs Festival of 1992 a play was performed at St. Mary le Crypt Church there entitled “Kyneburgh, Virgin of Gloucester”, which combined her story with that of Kyneburga of Castor.
Or was it the Tragic Princess?

In May 2010, following the discovery by workmen of two ancient buried coffins containing skeletons near Kimbrose Way, Gloucester, the local press published another version of the life of St Kyneburg - or possibly the story of a different Kyneburg, known as the Virgin of Gloucester. This according to William Hart's Historia et cartularium Monasterii Sancti Petri Gloucestriae i, pp. lxvi–lxviii
derives from a C15th manuscript, itself itemised as No.387 of the Lansdown Papers held in the British Museum. It said that she was a virgin of Royal Saxon descent who fled an arranged marriage by becoming adopted by a Gloucester baker. The baker's wife became jealous and killed Kyneburg, then threw her down a well, on the site of which the chapel was later built.The bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the chapel site on 4th.May 2010.This version may well be apocryphal, and sounds like many a tale contained within a mediaeval Lives of the Saints; though it is not the one given for St Kyneburg, nor is in the Rev. Alban Butler's authoritative work Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and other Principal Saints published in 1866. Butler in volume 2, under "6th. March" relates the history of Kyneburg as a daughter of King Penda, as above related.
Chapel of St. Kyneburg at Gloucester
A chapel was established in early times at Gloucester dedicated to this saint, and was transferred with all its lands to Llanthony Secunda  Priory by Roger Earl of Hereford between 1143 and 1155. It was situated inside Gloucester's city wall at the south gate.The chapel was eventually demolished and the effigy taken to the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene in Gloucester, the site of the former leper colony at Wooton also known as the Hospital of Dudstone, which had been founded in the early 11s when it was rife. It was probably founded by Walter of Gloucester and in the early 1150's it had support from Roger, Earl of Hereford. His family was closely connected with Llanthony Secunda Priory and the canons there cared for the lepers at Wooton, However then the Priories were taken by the King, the Crown had to assume reponsibility for the hospital and the inmates, inmates being residents in the almshouses.1546 the revenue was £3.4s 8d and there is a record, that they had retained a reader and six poor men and women. By 1598 it was derelict. In 1614, however, the Governor was personally paying for 13 more incombents.
St. Mary Magdalene's (or Magdalen's) chapel is the chancel and Senctuary of the church which originally served the inmates of the former St Mary Magdalene's almshouses. It was here that the lepers chapel was situated, the saint being very beloved of the lepers. The original road ran to the north of the church but has been realigned on the south, cutting the church off from the original almshouses (which are now buried). It is built in the romanesque, or Norman, style of the 1100s. The rest of the church extended left from the facade on the picture, and had to be demolished in 1861. Outside the chapel there are carvings on the wall, considered to be linked with St Mary Magdalene, a very popular saint and patron of lepers, and there may have been pilgrimages here in the Middle Ages. The date of the chapel could be perhaps dated to the carving of the Aragon Pineapple on one of the columns.There are crosses and floral motifs. In our sceptical age there are those who do not believe the small effigy held in the chapel is that of St Kyneburgha and, even though it was in her chapel, tend to believe it was one of the young daughters of Humphrey de Bohun, a patron of Llanthony Secunda. A new oak door was fitted at the entrance of the chapel, now only a chancel.to replace that which had been vandalised.Repairs were carried out to the leaded windows at the same time.I was fortunate Gloucester History Week allowed me to get in to photograph the St Mary Magdalene Chapel and the effigy.

St Anselm wrote this beautiful prayer to St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene, you came with springing tears to the spring of mercy, Christ; from him your burning thirst was abundantly refreshed through him your sins were forgiven; by him your bitter sorrow was consoled.

My dearest lady, well you know by your own life how a sinful soul can be reconciled with its creator, what counsel a soul in misery needs, what medicine will restore the sick to health.It is enough for us to understand, dear friend of God, to whom were many sins forgiven, because she loved much. Most blessed lady, I who am the most evil and sinful of men do not recall your sins as a reproach, but call upon the boundless mercy by which they were blotted out.This is my reassurance, so that I do not despair; this is my longing, so that I shall not perish.

I say this of myself, miserably cast down into the depths of vice, bowed down with the weight of crimes, thrust down by my own hand into a dark prison of sins, wrapped round with the shadows of darkness.Therefore, since you are now with the chosen because you are beloved and are beloved because you are chosen of God, 1, in my misery, pray to you, in bliss; in my darkness, I ask for light; in my sins, redemption; impure, I ask for purity.

Recall in loving kindness what you used to be, how much you needed mercy, and seek for me that same forgiving love that you received when you were wanting it. Ask urgently that I may have the love that pierces the heart; tears that are humble; desire for the homeland of heaven; impatience with this earthly exile; searing repentance; and a dread of torments in eternity.Turn to my good that ready access that you once had and still have to the spring of mercy.

Draw me to him where I may wash away my sins; bring me to him who can slake my thirst; pour over me those waters that will make my dry places fresh. You will not find it hard to gain all you desire from so loving and so kind a Lord, who is alive and reigns and is your friend.  St Mary Magdalene, Pray for us.

St Anselm (Catholic) Archbishop of Canterbury, 1093-1109



Monday, September 10, 2012

Tintern Abbey Vespers...a magical afternoon and a debut

                                                                                       September 8th is the day theat has been chosen by the Church to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary. It was Mary who co-operated with God, who had chosen her, a little Jewish girl of about 15 years perhaps to take the almighty task of providing the Saviour of the World. A  huge task for such a young woman. She acknowledges her stainless state by calling God her 'Saviour' and rejoices in  the faith and honour God has shown her faith and honour which have been shown to her, now, as she, living enjoys the Presence of God and her Son Jesus. Since all Christians, after their baptism, are united, as adoptive sons and daughters of God (cf The Kings and Queens of  Narnia are CS Lewis allegory in The Lion, the Witch and the Warderobe) Christ's mother is our Mother too, a mother we should call Blessed.....because the angel Gabriel said 'Blessed art Thou among Women' and Mary herself says 'Behold all generations shall call me blessed'.

So we have an enormous debt to little Mary for bringing us the Redeemer, the Saviour, He who conquered death for us and brought us Salvation. She gave Christ the flesh, which hung , to her enormous pain, on the Cross at Calvary, when the sword pierced her heart.

The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated with Mediaeval festivities as a holiday right through to 1535 when for some reason the Virgin was banned to being a 'receptacle'-a womb that God used to bring Our Lord into the world. Her honours and festivals ceased in Britain, even though both Luther and Calvin to their dying day,loved and honoured her. With the revival of honour being shown, underlined by John Henry Newman and Catholic Emancipation (the repeal of the harsh penal laws against Catholics) the honours were renewed and in recent years, the finding of the statue of Our Lady of Tintern, found in bits in the stone store and brilliant Sculptor Philip Chatfield's recreation from its pattern, found in Amiens Cathedral, there the original Sculptor
had fashioned it, it has been 'returned'.

 The stone was blessed, then the Sculptor and his tools in the traditional way by the Cistercian Abbot of Caldey, Daniel van Sandvoort  and Philip worked out of doors in the Abbey for the next year.It was consecrated by clergy (this is an ecumenical event) and Revd Archbishop Peter Smith on the 500 anniversary of the dissolution of the Abbey.

On Sunday 9th September 2007 the statue was blessed and dedicated in a moving ceremony conducted jointly by the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith, and by Bishop Dominic Walker of Monmouth, Church of Wales. A very large crowd gathered for the occasion – in the region of 800 people.
The dedication followed the now annual ecumenical service of Sung Vespers, which first took place again at Tintern in 2000, to mark the Millennium. The procession at that dedication included the Mediaeval re-enacters, who brought a banner, and flowers, which had been brought by many of the ecumenical assembly of Christians.Merchandise was produced to help pay for the enterprise. I also arranged for and brought two candle stands for use with the statue at Tintern for the ceremony, which appear to have been mislaid yesterday, which was regrettable.

Nevertheless the event was well attended. The Music , provided by the Choir of the ancient Priory in Monmouth were in stirling voice.Archbishop Stack, our new Archbishop seemed to not have been informed about the procession, but once the Vespers were underway, the whole was wonderful. The programme made the point about RR Terry's compilation of the 'Westminster Hymnal' first brought out 100 years ago..Terry's tune for AVE MARIS STELLA was sung  in  Edward Caswall's  English translation. The first hymn, 'Ye who own the faith of Jesus' was unknown to me, but sung to a well known tune 'Daily Daily sing to Mary'.The psalms had antiphons by Emma Joy and Susan Williams.Psalm 84 was preceded by 'On this day we honour the Virgin Mary; chosen by God, beyond all others blest' .Psalm  85 with Let us celebrate the birth of Mary, who brought forth for us the Saviour of the World!' Psalm 113 had  God has brought help to His people , O praise the Name of the Lord'  and  a canticle from Isaiah 61,10-11:62:1-2 was prefaced by 'You shall be a crown of Glory in the hand of the Lord'     The Scripture was from St Luke 1 v 39-56.

The new archbishop George Stack spoke strongly and firmly of the Tragedy of the building and what the stones would have said.He spoke well, and with a degree of emotion about the building, Tintern Abbey, mentioning how such buildings are magnets for tourists seeking something, and yet missing the inner unity possessed by the culture prior to the destruction of the  abbey.In quiet measured tones using the excellent sound system provided, he alluded to how modern technology,and music can bring some of it back, for example, during the Jubilee Celebrations, seeing Buckingham Palace swathed in light and sound as 'Madness' sang 'Our House' and the Crown or Light around Durham Cathedral celebrating the Lindesfarne Gospels. In the Tintern pilgrimages, he explained we have Footprints in the Sands of time, showing a continuation of worship throughout Christian time, and such buildings being an offering with which we worship God.

He went on to say 'If these stones could speak, what would they say?' Archbishop George remarked, the (original decapitated-) statue would speak of the turmoil of the time when political questions and allegiances were wrapped up in religious language. He said you only needed to watch the news to see no lessons had been learned in that direction.

He said Our Lady would speak of a stable, ordered Cistercian Community established around Wales,from Citeaux in 1098, a life centred in Prayer, orf WHOLE-ness, or HOL-iness, by extention going out to the good and well being of the surrounding parishes, contributing to the harmony of the life of the people, the building itself glorifying God in a beautiful God-given Creation in its surroundings. He quoted Eamon Duffy the historian, who in his excellent book 'The Voices of Morebath'  wrote of the social and political life of a small village in Devon called Morebath. He says the parish, the unity of the parish and by extension the Abbey was sophisticated and harmonious.

'There is a church sheep flock cared for in common but it is not a single flock but several,the proceeds of  which are dedicated to the different purposes of charities.'

The parish generally harmonious and sociable was gradually deconstructed throughout the Reformation and this social and religious life dismantled and its loss mourned. If the beautiful statue could speak, she would speak of the Rule of Benedict and the quiet rhythms of the days and years, the abbey its surroundings and parishes, a complete integrity of WHOLE-ness and HOL-iness. She would say you cannot separate the Grace of God from Nature , you can't see things in isolation, which is the tragedy of our present world, the lack of the inner UNITY at the Heart of Creation. Tintern Abbey was built, he said, as a reminder of that Unity of beautiful Creation and its heavenly Creator,the longing deep in the heart of every man and woman.

The Archbishop then turned to Beranrd of Clairvaux, the Cistercians'  greatest saint, who meditated on Mary's role , undoing the evil of Eve. He called her 'Rosa Mystica'; and this title has been given her in the Litany of Loreto. He said : 'Eve was a thorn, wounding , bringing death to all, in Mary we see a rose soothing people's hurts'.

Mary is indeed a rose
White for Maidenhood
Red for Love
White in Body
Red in Soul
White in seeking Virtue
Red in turning down Vice
White in cleansing our affection
Red in mortifying her flesh
White in her Love of God
Red in her comjpassion for her neighbour.  St Bernard

Finally he quoted Gerard Manley Hopkins the Jesuit poet, who saw the beauty of the Lord in' Dappled things.'
Is Mary that Rose then? Mary, the tree?
But the Blossom, the Blossom there, who can it be?
Who can her Rose be? It could be but One:
Christ Jesus, our Lord - her God and her Son.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Shew me thy son, Mother, Mother of mine
A hushed moving silence followed the beautifully crafted and delivered homily.
There followed the 'Ave Maris Stella' in English of Edward Caswall, and the Magnificat,and prayers, the 'Our Father' in a modern English form did not seem  known by many, and the Glory be, had a different ending is now and ever shall be, World without end' does not , to me mean the same as is now and shall be forever....'as it leaves out the New World without End of the Bride and the Lamb, but no doubt, it has been modernised here.  The CENSING of the statue and beautiful floral display was evocative, the incense of the Orthodox monastery going up in clouds and swirling round the statue, giving honour to the Mater Dei , The Theotokos and the Panagia (All Holy).
The  Monmouth Priory Choir (whose Music Director is not named in the programme)samg a beautiful rendition of Orlando di Lasso's motet 'Sancta Maria, Ora pro nobis'. It is always difficult to mike so many singers, but the beauty of their singing greatly enhanced the procession to the statue.I especially liked this and the ensuing SALVE REGINA (Hail Holy Queen) sung with great gusto by the whole assembly of Christians  with numbers in the hundreds. There followed a prayer and blessing and final hymn 'Alleluia sing to Jesus' the old abbey ringing to the sounds of hundreds of voices upturned in praise.
Many people went up to venerate the statue and light some candles, sadly the candlestands were no-where to be found. I was just sad there was no rosary announced afterwards for those who wished it, and no informal Marian hymns. I saw few priests I knew at this year’s Vespers, but probably as they are all moving around this weekend to different parishes.Nevertheless on a sunny beautiful Autumn day, in a place of great beauty we once again gave thanks with equal beauty for Mary's gift to human kind in co-operation with God.

                                           Pilgrims at the end stay to honour Mary .